Securly 24: Saving Lives One Call At A Time

Since 2015, Auditor and Filter have used AI-based technology to flag messages of grief and bullying in emails, social media posts, and Internet searches. When a concerning message is detected, automated email alerts are sent to the IT admin in that district. But we knew we could do one better. So last September, we released securly:// 24 to the world.

Welcome to our 24 Student Safety Operations. This combines our Auditor and Filter sentiment analysis algorithm with a team of Student Safety Analysts who conduct risk analysis in real time on alerts flagged for suicide, depression, self-harm, and bullying. If the alert indicates imminent danger for the student, our analysts notify designated emergency contacts from the school immediately.

Even better? Our analysts are able to review the student’s previous alerts and search activity to form a more complete picture of the situation. This kind of insight means that we can help a suicidal student who vaguely emailed a friend they were in pain, but searched “how to kill yourself” on Google 5 minutes later.

“Securly has unique insight to student’s online activities and our analysts are trained to use this information to identify students experiencing real threats to their safety,” says Kathy Boehle, Director of Securly’s 24 Student Safety Operations. “Students aren’t always straightforward when communicating via email. Often Securly’s search data can clarify which students are a little sad, and which students are desperate and need immediate help.”

After a few short months, 34 lives have been saved. Here are just a few of those stories:

How To Help Your Child Through The Stress Of Exams

Summer is just around the corner and you may have already begun planning family vacations and outings. But before they have fun, your kids have to take a little something called final exams [insert scary Halloween-like sounds here].

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Securly Shares 5 Years of Student Safety Evolution

In 2013, Securly had its humble beginnings as a web filter company with the release of our flagship filter product. Student safety has always been our mission, and something we have prioritized when building and releasing new products and services for the K-12 market. 5 years of releases and launches later, we are not just a web filter company. We are The student safety company. Presenting…5 Years with Securly!

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5 Ways to Promote Mental Health Awareness at School

It’s Mental Health Month, and today is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. 11.01% of 12-17 year olds reported suffering from at least one major depressive episode in 2017, and suicide is the third leading cause of death for children aged 10-14.

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Social Media Challenges: What Adults Need To Know

Teens are suffering second-degree burns from purposefully rubbing salt and ice on their skin. Laundry detergent pods are being swallowed resulting in hospitalizations. Recently, a student at a New Jersey High School died after playing something called the Choking Challenge.

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The recent rise of social media challenges is putting teens at risk of serious physical harm. So why are these internet challenges so appealing? Why would teens purposely inflict harm on themselves for fun?

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What to Expect from Securly in 2018

classroom, securly, parents, student safety, online

2017 was a year of immense growth for us. Securly now has 70+ employees across California, North Carolina, and India. Our Charlotte and India offices continue to expand, and we moved our HQ in Silicon Valley to a new office 3x the size of our old space.

Our main goal for 2017 was to innovate, innovate, and innovate. And as always, with the intention to secure ubiquitous child safety both at school and at home. In our path to achieving this goal, we pledge to create affordable, innovative products – so that schools and parents never have to compromise on student safety. We accomplished a lot this past year, and are excited to share our new products with you soon. 2018 here we come!

COMING SOON

Classroom

With this free feature, we let teachers become the IT admins of their own classroom. They can track assignments and whitelist/blacklist sites. Classroom works in conjunction with Google Classroom, helping teachers keep students on track to maximize the benefits of EdTech. Sign up for our priority list here.

24

We’re offering a 24/7 crisis support team because cyberbullying, depression, and self-harm are not bound by a 9-5 schedule. 24 automatically observes a student’s activity on the web, social media, and Youtube. When activity is flagged, a trained staff member will review the context in which it was used and the user’s history for insight into the bigger picture. Able to recognize the nuances of language and critically analyze a user’s history, a human can make determinations that technology may overlook. If flagged activities are cause for alarm, a 24 staff member will alert a counselor in real-time via text or, if necessary, a phone call.

Plug n’ Play

Parents can design an at-home Internet experience that is personalized for their children. Just connect the plug n’ play hub to your wifi router and rest assured your kids are browsing safely.  Parents can change the filter settings, block any inappropriate sites, set time limits, and receive optional e-mail reports and notifications. Parent wifi is not affected.

And in case you missed it, here’s a list of other features that make Securly the best web filter:

 

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Classroom by Securly – helping teachers manage EdTech for free.

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Background

EdTech is booming. The industry has accumulated $887M in funding in the first half of this year already. Many schools continue to adopt a 1:1 environment, a program that offer students autonomy and access; yet many teachers and parents feel they lack the required structure to optimize success. Thus, the need for classroom management tools is becoming imperative. These tools allow teachers to know track student progress and productivity, allowing classroom interaction to continue into the virtual world.

However, classroom management assistance became commodified as soon as its need was realized. With all the costs schools incur, additional classroom tools tend to be a lower priority than online safety and security features which are required by law.

 

Our Solution

To ensure that schools never have to compromise, we are planning to release a free, classroom management tool at the start of 2018. Called Classroom by Securly, it will work in conjunction with Google Classroom, and allows teachers the ability to be the IT admins of their own classrooms. This will provide educators the ability to whitelist websites that are relevant to their class and block all others. Ultimately, this tool will help teachers keep students on track to maximize the benefits of EdTech.

“We want teachers to be able to walk into their classroom and know that kids can only access whitelisted content,” says Bharath Madhusudan, CTO and co-founder of Securly. “Giving teachers control over their classroom means kids have to focus on math, history, English, whatever. They can’t distract themselves, even if they want to.”

 

The first to receive Classroom by Securly will be those educators on a priority list. To sign up for the priority list, click here.

 

You Down With FTP? (Yeah, You Know Me!)

Put your books down, class. It’s time for a pop quiz. Who knows what FTP stands for?

Free Tibetan Puppies?

Flossing Tackles Periodontitis?

&%$@ The Pistons!

If you guessed ‘None of the above’ or even ‘Geez, that last one seems really negative and I highly recommend some anger management tools’ you’re correct!

IMG_20171025_121134_Bokeh.jpgSameer Waskar (red), Mahesh Digarse (light yellow), and Shreyas Moghe (dark yellow) work together to determine the appropriate emoticon for stoicism. Stop suggesting the eggplant, Sameer.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is commonly used for exchanging files over the Internet. FTP uses the Internet’s TCP/IP protocols to enable data transfer. It uses a client-server architecture, often secured with SSL/TLS.

The parent CSV come straight out of the Student Information System (SIS). Most SIS systems offer a FTP upload option out of the box. This allows EdTech tools that rely on data such as rostering and grade information to do what they do. Securly is now among the EdTech products supporting the SFTP option for direct SIS exports.

Securly uses SFTP (FTP over SSH), a connection that requires a user id and password to connect to the SFTP server. It’s important to note that any user ids and passwords supplied over the SFTP connection will be encrypted, which is a big advantage over standard FTP.

How is it useful:

  • Allows you to transfer multiple files as well as directories
  • The ability to resume a transfer if the connection is lost
  • The ability to add items to a “queue” to be uploaded/downloaded
  • Many FTP clients have the ability to schedule transfers
  • No size limitation on single transfers (browsers only allow up to 2 GB)
  • Many clients have scripting capabilities through command line
  • Most clients have a synchronizing utility
  • Faster transfers than HTTP

So, there you go! Useful information about FTP, more detail about why Securly uses SFTP, and more acronyms than you could possibly stomach in a single sitting.

 

Guard yourself against these 3 things

cyberbullying, school, parents, online student safety, Securly

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Each week in October is dedicated to a different cyber security theme, and features appropriate resources to help all internet users protect themselves from threats online.

Both children and adults should be cautious of their interactions online, while also considering whom they are dealing with:

BOTS

Bots are useful tools and potentially constitute 60% of website traffic. However, they are oftentimes employed to conduct cybercriminal activity. They are a type of malware, allowing hackers to remotely take control over the infected computer.

Bots can be website scrapers and spammers, while extensive “botnets” (an army of infected computers) can take down a website in mere seconds called a Denial-of-Service Attack. Bots send viruses and are often used to steal personal information (credit card information, bank credentials, social security numbers), putting victims at risk of fraud.

STRANGERS

The digital age promised to bring the world closer – and indeed the younger generation seems to be reflecting the sentiment, sharing increasingly more personal information with strangers online. The study extrapolates that 1 in 5 people share sensitive data (including passport scans, bank information, and personal documents) online with others they do not know well.

Neglecting to install proper security measures or voluntarily sharing personal information introduces many risks, from Venmo scams and fraud to sexual predators.

PEERS

Incorporating people from your physical environment into your online social community may seem like a natural extension. However, a recent study by Robin Dunbar of Oxford Universityshows that most of your online friends are in fact not your “real friends”. In fact, cyberbullying is more likely to come from a teen’s peers than from internet trolls or strangers. There are cases where aggressive “strangers” were exposed as peers operating under fake accounts/names.

Online communication platforms are efficient, but “the lack of face-to-face interactions makes it difficult to invest in a relationship for maintaining an essential level of ‘emotional intensity.’” This lack of empathy and selective sharing on social media garners a feeling of detachment, which empowers cyberbullying. October is also National Bullying Prevention Month. Cyber Security can be integral in bullying prevention. Both campaigns intersect, working towards the same goal: safety.

To learn more about how we keep kids safe online, visit our website:

Learn more about our Built-In Cyberbullying Detection

How We Keep 1M Students Safe Daily

We introduced Auditor after learning from our schools that students were using Gmail to express negative emotions such as bullying and self-harm. We made it free so that no school would have to make compromises when it comes to student safety.

Today, Auditor is thriving – scanning 3.5 million emails per day for 1 million students across the world.

‘Within six months of its launch Auditor has scanned more than 100 million emails and saved so many lives – That’s the power of AI and best part is that it’s all free! This is something that each every school should have as kids lives are at stake.’

‘Securly has been having its filtering product around for quite sometime but our core mission has always been ubiquitous safety for kids. Auditor is one such product that is so core to our mission, we decided to give it for free. Since its launch six months ago it has helped save countless number of lives.’ – Neeraj Thakar, VP India R&D Operations

Auditor also ensures that schools are CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) compliant. CIPA requires schools to maintain “the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications”. However, traditional web-filters do not address this. Many schools reported using Google’s default compliance options to flag emails that contain a predefined set of keywords.

This method is undependable as:

  1. It Is prone to lots of False Positives (False Alarms) and False Negatives (Missed Alerts).
  2. Does not scale well in a large District where IT becomes the bottleneck in sorting through these flagged messages.

 

Instead, Auditor uses an automated sentiment inference approach. For example, consider a post that was flagged by our algorithm:

“slowly im realizing i don’t really have a purpose here say good bye cause Fryday it’s all over <3”

Though the allusion to suicide is clear, it does not contain the keywords usually associated with this kind of behavior. A keyword based approach would not have worked in detecting this.

 

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